Programme links Samantha to attack

A former Banbridge girl, who has been described as the world’s most wanted woman, was the subject of a BBC Panorama documentary linking her to the attack on a Kenyan shopping mall.

Wednesday, 9th July 2014, 11:59 am

Programme-makers said they had been on the trail of Samantha Lewthwaite (29), the widow of London 7/7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay, for much of the last year.

They arrived in Kenya on the same day that terrorists linked to the Somali militant group al-Shabab launched an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September 2013.

Samantha, who still has family in Banbridge, was accused of masterminding the operation that killed more than 50 people. The programme set out to find out whether the ‘White Widow’ had been directly involved and traced her life after she left the UK.

The Panorama reporter Adam Wishart said Samantha had come to South Africa in 2008 when she was introduced to her second husband by the radical preacher Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal.

El-Faisal claimed Samantha had visited him while he was serving a prison sentence at a jail in Worcestershire and maintained Samantha was probably living in an east African country.

While pointing out that there is an outstanding warrant relating to Samantha - it relates to charges of possessing explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011 in Kenya - the programme was unable to confirm her involvement in the Westgate attack.

Wishart pointed out that after the attack the CCTV footage showed just four men wielding guns and Samantha was not captured on camera.

The group responsible al-Shabab denied that it would ever use a woman. No other evidence has been forthcoming to suggest she was involved.

Samantha converted to Islam as a teenager and was married to Lindsay, one of the four suicide bombers who carried out the July 7 attacks in 2005.

Initially she said she was horrified by the attack, but in 2009 she disappeared with her three children and for the past two years has been on the run in East Africa.